Washington D.C. — A new era for CONCACAF officially kicked off for the U.S. Men’s National Team last night. In front of a sparse Audi Field crowd, the USMNT took on Cuba in the first-ever Nations League match.
The USMNT did what they were expected to do — thrash Cuba.
Seven goals piled up for the USMNT, with six coming in the first half. Weston McKennie showed off his knack for goal, recording a hat-trick only 13 minutes into the match. McKennie found the opening goal just seconds after the whistle signaled to start the match. Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent also scored.
Unlucky for Cuba, Dario Ramos slipped in an own goal past his goalkeeper in the 37th minute. Cuban goalkeeper Nelson Johnston faced 24 total shots throughout the night, but made four saves to prevent further disaster.
Six of the first goals were scored in the first half, and only a penalty kick was scored in the second half. The United States dripped in production, unable to manage their way around the now-tight Cuba defense.
Before Friday night’s match, Pulisic said the United States didn’t want to undermine Cuba.
“We don’t take a game lightly,” Pulisic said, after training. “They’re going to come in, going to compete and they’re going to want to compete. We want to come out with a good result.”
Pulisic also said that members of the team are buying into Gregg Berhalter’s program. Although, the Chelsea forward said that there’s still work that needs to be done.
“This coaching staff is specific in the details on how we want to play,” Pulisic said. “I think we’re learning a lot. Once it continues and we continue to grow as a team, we can be a real tough team to play against.”
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) October 12, 2019
- Don’t leap for the stars yet: Cuba doesn’t have the resources that U.S. Soccer has. That’s plain and simple. The United States and their fans went into this match with a confidence that they could win. However, after the disaster two years ago in Trinidad, there are cautions to being confident. This competition, though, shouldn’t be heralded as a turning point for the team. Win against Belgium, or even Russia, and then there can be room for celebration.
- Take the same approach to Canada: The tougher of the two matches will be Canada. John Herdman is a great head coach, switching from the women’s program over to the men. However, Canada still is on a lower level than the United States. The USMNT needs to pressure Canada — and pressure hard.
- McKennie shines: Although there’s not too much to take away from this match, you have to tip your hat to Weston McKennie. He’s shown time and time again how much passion he has for the team. It could’ve been easy to look at the stands, see the empty seats and not care the slightest. However, whether it’s a friendly or Nations League, McKennie’s passion can never be denounced.
The USMNT will take on Canada on Tuesday in the second Nations League match. The team will take a trip up to BMO Field, the home of Michael Bradley and Toronto FC. ESPN2 will air the match.